A Quick Guide: How to Find the Best Sleeping Bag Stuff Sack?

So you’ve bought a good sleeping bag for yourself to go on a hiking trip.

Great!

But what if the sleeping bag will be wet before you get to your camping spot?

Here come the sleeping bag stuff sacks.

The stuff sacks for backpacking are bags made out of nylon or other similar waterproof or water-resistant materials that are invaluable for organizing your hiking gear.

The smaller sacks are great for food or other hiking essentials while the larger ones are reserved for the sleeping bag and clothes because, more often than not, these items need to be compressed to preserve the limited space in the backpack.

You just need to push your sleeping bag into a stuff sack, pull the strings and all the bulk will be compressed into a small ball or cylinder leaving far more space for important hiking equipment.

Why do You Need a Sleeping Bag Stuff Sack?

You might wonder why you need a stuff sack for your sleeping bag when you could just simply stuff your sleeping bag into your hiking backpack and try to compress it as much as possible.

It might not look like it, but buying a sleeping bag stuff sack has the following main benefits:

  • it keeps your sleeping bag dry and clean after camping overnight.
  • it reduces the size and the volume of your overall sleeping bag (and backpack).
  • it keeps your sleeping bag compact and provides more room for other items.
  • it helps you keep your backpack organized.
  • greatly speeds up the packing and unpacking of your sleeping bag (and hiking gear).

The Sleeping Bag Type

Camping

Down Sleeping Bags

Probably the most important thing to consider when choosing your stuff sack is the type of sleeping bag you own or intend to purchase.

These generally are split up into two large categories: down sleeping bags (filled with either duck or goose down) and synthetic sleeping bags (filled with synthetic insulation)

Down sleeping bags are lightweight and easier to compress compared to synthetic sleeping bags. They can usually fit without problems into a regular dry sack.

On the down side, they are only water-resistant and take longer to dry out if wet, which means that you will need a very good waterproof sleeping bag stuff sack to preserve and protect it against humidity.

Larger, cold weather or mummy style sleeping bags, which use more fabric for insulation, will fit better into a large compression sack that will reduce their size

Synthetic Sleeping Bags

Synthetic sleeping bags are filled with synthetic polyester insulation. Their main advantage is that they dry out considerably faster, therefore the stuff sack doesn’t necessarily need to be 100% waterproof.

They are harder to compress and bulkier because they need more material to retain heat, therefore, if you own one of these, you will need to buy a larger stuff sack with good compression.

If the weight becomes an issue on the mountain, you might consider purchasing a lightweight or very lightweight stuff sack.

Synthetic sleeping bags created for temperatures below zero tend to be very large and tend to break down faster than their natural counterpart.

It is recommended to buy a special stuff sack from the same brand that was created specifically for your type of bag and that adequately compresses the fibre and prolongs the lifespan of your sleeping bag.

Click here to find out what is the stuff sack size that would comfortably fit your sleeping bag.

Backpacks

The Materials

Another important feature to consider when choosing a stuff sack for backpacking is the material.

You want to look for something that is durable, waterproof and light.

The most common materials on the market are nylon, silnylon (Siliconized Cordura), polyurethane coated fabrics and Cuben fibre.

Of all the above materials, the Cuben fibre is the strongest and lasts much longer when exposed to water. It comes with a pretty steep price tag, but it is totally worth it if you plan to hike for long periods of time, through a region with a wet season.

And, it has the advantage that is twice as lighter compared to nylon.

A medium stuff sack made of Cuben fibre will only weight around 30-50g compared to a nylon one which can be much heavier.

The Location of Your Adventure

Before buying a sleeping bag stuff sack you also have to ask yourself where will you hike. If your adventure is planned for a drier season like Summer or Winter you will do just fine with a water-resistant stuff sack which uses a cord and a cord lock to secure your items.

If you are trying to save up a bit of cash, a cheaper, but durable stuff sack will suffice.

For rainy seasons like Spring, you are better off investing in a waterproof sleeping bag stuff sack, with an airtight roll-top closure which ensures that your sleeping bag (and other belongings) are properly aired and protected from any humidity.

Location

Types of Sleeping Bag Stuff Sacks

There are plenty of attractive choices on the market and it might be difficult for you to settle for any particular one.

Stuff sacks largely fit into 3 categories and each of them will fulfill different needs.

To lend you a hand, we specifically picked up for you a few excellent sacks. Let’s take a quick look!

Compression Stuff Sacks

The main purpose of these stuff sacks is to compress the sleeping bag and make it as small as possible.

It is basically a stuff sack with an additional lid on top which helps you mechanically compress the sleeping bag using a few external compressive straps.

Their main feature is that they vent all the air out, but they don’t let any water in. They are essential if space is an issue on your next trip.

Waterproof stuff sacks for down sleeping bags

Our choice: Sea to Summit Ultra-Sil eVENT Compression Dry Sacks

Sea to Summit is renowned for producing some of the highest quality hiking gear.

This compression stuff sack for sleeping bags is a lighter version of the Compression Dry Sack and is made from 30D Ultra-Sil nylon.

This sack will compress your sleeping bag down to one-third of its original volume using 3 straps and a lid.

Pros
  • Extremely waterproof – Roll-top Hypalon closure with lid and reinforced, double stitched seams.
  • Very light – it weighs half of the original Compression dry sack.
  • The fabric is air permeable and allows you to compress the air out while keeping all the water out.
  • Excellent price to quality ratio.
Cons
  • The straps are prone to twisting.
  • The material feels a bit too flimsy.
  • Plastic clips don’t seem to be made of the same high-quality materials as the rest of the bag and they can snap.

Overall, if handled with proper care, this is one of the most solid pieces of hiking gear.

Waterproof stuff sacks for synthetic sleeping bags

Our choice: Outdoor Research Airpurge Dry Compression Sack

Outdoor Research’s Dry Compression stuff sack for sleeping bags is and excellent sack reinforced with a roll-top for additional protection against water.

This stuff sack is made from a durable Hydroseal coated nylon fabric with fully taped seams for reliable waterproof performance.

In addition, it has an internal zippered pocket which acts as storage space in case you would like to pack some additional items with your sleeping bag.

Similar to Sea to Summit, the fabric is air-permeable and helps you evacuate all the air without letting any water inside.

Pros
  • Great compression for your sleeping bag.
  • The air-permeable material is towards the bottom of the sack but not at the absolute bottom which allows you to get out more air when you’re packing and compressing.
  • 100% waterproof even if submerged for short periods of time – you are guaranteed a dry sleeping bag.
Cons
  • It is not the lightest compression sack on the market – it works best if you are used to carry a bit more weight.
  • Straps may break and the material seems fragile – pack with care and match your sleeping bag’s volume to the bag’s capacity.
  • The opening of the bag is too narrow making compression a bit difficult at times.

Dry Bags and Dry Sacks

They are simple sacks in which you can stuff your sleeping bag. The majority of them are water-resistant (better quality ones are waterproof) and they are a useful tool for when you are hiking in a dry environment.

They are a bit heavier than your usual stuff sack and they don’t compress which makes them the cheaper choice.

Dry sacks are ideal if space is not an issue or if you choose a synthetic sleeping bag and you want to preserve it for as long as possible.

Our choice: Exped Unisex Fold Drybag Set 4 Pack

These bags come in a set of 4 different sizes, but you can always purchase them separately.

Exped produces waterproof dry bags with a solid roll-top closure for protection against water and dirt. The sacks are made of 15 D rip-stop nylon with a silicone coating on the outside and an extra PU coating on the inside.

They are incredibly lightweight (the XXL bag for 40 L weights only 57g) and perfect for usage when every gram counts which makes them a very good fit for heavier sleeping bags. The seams are fully taped.

Pros

  • Different sizes and different colors – perfect for organizing your backpack and keeping track of your items.
  • Very strong and durable, airtight despite the very thin feeling of the fabric.
  • The fastening is small but secure.

Cons

  • Not suitable for holding anything with even mild edges or pointy surfaces;
  • No handle – can’t be attached to your backpack;

Ultra Lightweight Stuff Sacks

Ultra-lightweight stuff sacks are generally made from an ultralight material like the Dyneema Composite Fabric (Cuben Fiber) or silnylon.

They are a few grams lighter and are ideal for long trips where you need to preserve your energy.

They will use a cord and cord lock for closure which means that water can leak in if you encounter heavy rains despite the fact that the fabric itself is very strong and waterproof.

Our choice: Sea to Summit Ultra-Sil Stuff Sack

This is an extremely strong and light stuff sack made of 30D Siliconized Cordura.

The fabric is impregnated with silicone to make it more resistant and waterproof. The bag will close tightly using a cord and a cord lock.

Pros

  • Silky, smooth finish for easy packing.
  • Double stitched seams for more strength.
  • Durable, extremely lightweight material in beautiful bright colors – it feels as if the bag doesn’t even exist.

Cons

  • No flap to cover the opening – only water-resistant (depends on the weather conditions).
  • Material is really light and can break if you store any pointy objects inside.
  • Smaller than expected – before buying, measure your sleeping bag volume and pick up a suitable size.

Sleeping bag stuff sacks come in a variety of models. When picking up the best one for you, think about:

  • the type of sleeping bags you own (their volume and material),
  • the type of material you need for your stuff sack,
  • the overall weight of your carry-on backpack,
  • where you will be hiking and how the weather is in that region.

Generally, you are looking for a lightweight sack, made out of a durable, waterproof material that will compress your large sleeping bag into a smaller ball.

Stuff sacks will make a nice addition to your hiking gear and the right sack will make the overall hiking experience much more enjoyable.

Buy a good quality stuff sack because, after all, there is nothing worse than sleeping in a damp sleeping bag!

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